Updated: Jan 8, 2019
Have you ever received a really nice gift from a loved one but thought to yourself, “Gee, I really didn’t need this. Why not just spend time with me?”
Or have you told someone you were really proud of them hoping they would say the same thing to you? This can leave you feeling empty, misunderstood, and lonely. But the good news is that you aren’t alone!
According to Dr. Gary Chapman, there are 5 Love Languages for how people receive love and show love to others .
So if a significant other, parent, or relative has spoken kind words to you, given you something thoughtful, or did something above and beyond but you still felt empty after their action—don’t feel bad, they just weren’t speaking your love language.
So, what are these magical 5 love languages that have been shown to help improve marriages and relationships?
First, Words of Affirmation. These can be words of encouragement or appreciation or a simple compliment.
Second, Quality Time, which is giving your or receiving someone’s undivided attention and communication.
Third, Receiving Gifts. Dr. Chapman calls gifts “visual symbols of love” and highlights that the monetary value of the gift is rarely a factor—it is the thoughtfulness and intention that is important.
Fourth, Acts of Service. Whether it’s taking out the trash, walking the dog, or running errands, completing daily tasks in order to help relieve the burden on someone can go a long way.
And finally, Physical Touch. Many assume sexual contact is the key factor here but it’s NOT. Holding hands, back rubs, hugs, and snuggles can all display excitement, concern, care, and love to another person.
Identifying Your Love Language
One of the most important things you can do for yourself and your current and future relationships is to identify your love language.
Dr. Chapman provides a FREE online profile where you can take the quiz and identify your primary love language. Go to: https://www.5lovelanguages.com/profile/ and take your quiz!
When beginning the quiz, you will be asked if you are taking the quiz on behalf of yourself or your child (YES, you can even learn your child’s love language, which I HIGHLY recommend to all parents).
Next, you will identify if you are single or in a relationship. After taking the quiz, you will see “scores” on the left-hand side of the page. It’s not uncommon to have two high scores, it just means that these two are both important to you.
On the right-hand side, you will see descriptions of your love languages with examples. Take a look around and embrace this new, exciting information about yourself!
Examples of the Love Languages
Now that you have your top love languages, it’s time to think of some more examples that are unique to who you are.
Everyone will be different so grab a piece of paper and pen. Jot down ideas that come to you as we discuss examples. Keep this information to share with your current/future partner, parents, and other friends.
Words of Affirmation: Actions, sometimes, are not louder than words. Unsolicited compliments or being told “I love you” could go a really long way! If words of affirmation are your loved language, other examples included:
“You look really nice/pretty,” “I’m proud of you for doing ____,”
“You are so smart/thoughtful”
“You have great ambition”
“You did a great job doing _____” and “I’m really blessed to have you in my life.”
Dr. Chapman warns us that hearing specific phrases can harm your relationship. For example, if someone insults you or says harsh things, you may not be able to easily forgive or forget it.
Quality Time: Having someone give you his or her undivided attention may be very life giving for you! However, many clients tell me that they “spend time with their partner but it isn’t refreshing.”
The time together must be quality. Examples of quality time can include: taking a hike together, playing a game, reading a book together, attending a Bible study, making and having dinner, or shopping together.
Plopping down in front of a television for hours or continuing to stare at a phone or electronics is NOT quality time. Additionally, if your main love language is quality time you may feel mistreated and hurt when your partner is on their phone, iPad, or turns on the television while you are together.
Even though technology has helped us connect to others, it has also disconnected us in vital ways.
Receiving Gifts: This love language commonly confused with materialism—it’s not! Rather, it is about the thoughtfulness and effort behind the gift. Gifts can often let us know that we are loved, known, and cared for by another person.
Examples can include anything from receiving your favorite candy to a new car that you have been eyeing.
If this is your love language, it’s important to share with your partner your ideal gifts that would help you feel loved and important! Receiving some gifts can actual deplete your love tank. For example, gifts that are perceived as rushed, thoughtless, or impulsive can feel as though your partner doesn’t know you.
Acts of Service: If this is your love language, hearing the phrase, “Let me do that for you,” will put a big smile on your face! Anything that your partner can do to ease the burden of responsibilities will help you feel loved and important.
The key part of this language is that others are serving you out of love, not obligation! Examples can include helping with chores around the house, filling your car up with gas, bathing the family pet, or completing a home repair.
Things that can make you irritated, hurt, or misunderstood can include laziness, broken promises, and someone making more work for you to do. Any actions that indicate, “Your feelings aren’t important” can drastically harm your relationship.
Physical Touch: As stated before, just because you like sex, doesn’t mean this is your love language. Most individuals with this love language are very touchy and physically affectionate.
Hugs, pats on the back, massages, and snuggles are all examples of physical affection that help you feel loved and valued.
On the flip side, it is no surprise that physical harm can be the ultimate relationship destroyer if this is your love language. Neglect, abuse, or physical pain can be inexcusable and devastating to your relationship.
Apply Your Love Language to Your Life Situation
Learning your love language can help you in a variety of relationships including, but not limited to: your dating/married life, parent-child relationship, relationship with yourself, other family relationships, friendships, and business relationships.
Because the majority of this article was geared towards relationships with significant others, I want to spend some time discussing how it can improve other relationships.
Dr. Chapman has published the book, “The 5 Love Languages of Children.” I recommend this book to EVERY parent that I see in therapy. Why? — Because your child is going to perceive love in one of these five ways.
If you want to build a strong relationship and attachment to your child, you NEED to speak their love language. Again, you can go back and retake the quiz for your child and learn more about them!
I also recommend reading the book and having a discussion with your child or teen about how they would like to receive love from you. It’s amazing that many of my teenagers state that they would like to receive a surprise, “I love you” text from a parent or they would like to go out for ice cream or coffee.
Your child wants and needs to spend time with you!
Additionally, Dr. Chapman wrote the 5 Love Languages Single’s Edition. If you are not involved in a romantic relationship, it is still important for you to understand and know your love language.
I tell all of my single clients, including single parents, that you need to take care of yourself and a great way to do that is to speak your love language to yourself!
Now, doing some of them may be a bit tricky but let’s get creative! For physical touch, you can buy a professional massage, pedicure, or handheld head massager (Here is my favorite one: https://amzn.to/2NR7aaL).
Words of affirmation can include writing yourself daily affirmations and taping them to a bathroom mirror, journaling your accomplishments, and reminding yourself how important you are to others.
Quality time is spending time getting to know yourself more. Go for a hike, attend a Bible study, take a cooking class, or volunteer! Acts of service can be tricky to provide for yourself but get resourceful. You may benefit from hiring a housekeeper or landscaper, getting your car detailed, or hiring another professional that will help make life a bit easier!
Finally, giving yourself gifts can also be rejuvenating. Order your favorite book online, grab a coffee on your way to the office, or even save up some money in order to kick-start a new hobby.
The limits are endless but just remember it’s not about the materialistic part. It’s about showing yourself love and affection.
Friendships and Business Relationships
Same as other relationships, you can speak your friends’ and colleagues’ love language as well! Disclaimer: I don’t recommend going around touching everyone. That’s a lawsuit waiting to happen.
But if you know your best friend’s love language is words of affirmation, randomly tell her that she’s doing a great job at work or with her kids! You’ll be surprised how much it means to her.
Love Language Conclusion
If you have ever found yourself feeling depleted in your relationships, including your relationship with yourself, it’s time to take the 5 Love Languages [add link] quiz and learn how you give and receive love.
Take time to share this information with others that you would like to grow with and make sure you are speaking your love language to yourself!
What is your love language? Leave a comment below!
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- Chapman, G. (2015). The 5 love languages: The secret to love that lasts. Chicago, IL: Northfield Publishing.